Notes from the Campaign Trail

Nov. 20, 2022


It’s been nearly two weeks since election day and I have yet to concede. As election day approached, I joked that lightning would have to strike thrice for me to win. Well before the campaign ended the incumbent congratulated the other republican candidate in the race, saying in print she looked forward to working with him. Of course, this was slightly presumptuous and endlessly rude but not inaccurate. More than anything, I suppose, it speaks to the arrogance of the party that has an undeserved super-majority in the legislature.


Do I sound resentful? Well, I am. I feel this way because the campaign was never fair. And not just because of the ratio of democrats to republicans in my district. I’m not an election denier. Elections are free and fair in the sense that the election officials accurately tallied the votes. They are not free and fair in a systemic sense because of money, media, and gerrymandering.


More than half the registered voters in South Dakota are not Republican, and yet the GOP—overwhelmingly old, white, racist, and male—controls more than 90% of the seats in the legislature. As I have said many times, this is taxation without representation. The legislature can and does ignore more than half the state’s voters. It’s morally and ethically corrupt.


Much was made, at least inside my ideological bubble, about the amount of out-of-state money that underwrote the two gubernatorial candidates—80% for the incumbent, 5% for her opponent. This is just one example of funding inequity. I won’t get into the disparities and problems caused by the US Supreme Court’s Citizen’s United case, except to say this: spending money is not free speech. It is as absurd as it sounds. Even the old, white, racist, and male Founding Fathers did not intend for this interpretation of the Constitution. This is just the prime example of how the Republicans win, not with ideas, but by gaming the system.


Republicans, again because they don’t have any practical policy ideas to convince voters to choose them, will harp about the leftist bias of the media. This coming from the party that has Fox News, their propaganda arm, working on their behalf. No serious person would say The Rapid City Journal is left leaning. Honestly, The Journal contorts itself to appear objective and at the same time is obsequious to the business community. The same is true of the television stations.


Because of the internet, as we have ceaselessly heard for decades now, local news and newspapers are not just in decline but on life-support. The situation is as dire as ever. Many of us have legitimate gripes about The Journal and other local outlets, but we should be grateful they are still covering local events, however inconsistently. In western South Dakota The Journal still matters.


In neighboring states, specifically Iowa, the death of small-town newspapers has led to the rise of Trumpism, our special brand of fascism. An idiot like Kim Reynolds can breeze into office because most Iowans depend on social media for their election coverage. Hold it, we also elected an idiot with an overwhelming mandate. Are we as gullible and fascist as Iowans? Duh.


Just today I read on Facebook a ridiculous quote attributed to Thomas Jefferson about the untrustworthiness of the press, the fallback position for those who welcome fascism. When I say press, I’m talking about a free press, one that is critical of those in power. A healthy free press, media that is unafraid and highly critical of the powerful, is the only line of defense we have between an open society and dictatorship. The press is not the enemy of the people unless it stops holding leaders accountable.

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